Bad breath causes and how to treat it

bad breathBad breath (also known as halitosis) is the term for when an unpleasant odour is present upon exhaled breath. However, it is nothing to be embarrassed or ashamed about and in fact around 95% of us suffer with it at some point in our lives, with a quarter of adults battling it on a regular basis.

Consistently poor oral hygiene is primarily the cause of bad breath. Bacteria from poor oral hygiene can accumulate on the teeth and tongue, causing plaque to form (the soft, white deposit that forms on the surface of the teeth), gum disease and tooth decay.

Unfortunately, this bacteria joins with saliva in the breakdown of food particles and proteins, culminating in the release of unpleasant smelling gases known as also known as volatile sulphur compounds (VCSs). The culprit VCSs include: hydrogen sulfide, methyl mercaptan, allyl methyl sulfide, and dimethyl sulphide. The failure to brush and floss on a regular basis will mean that food still trapped in areas between your teeth will be broken down by the bacteria, giving you bad breath.

There are numerous other factors though that can contribute to bad breath, and it is worth being aware of them.

Crash dieting

Fasting and low-carbohydrate/high-protein diets result in the the body breaking down fat and chemicals called ketones are produced, which can be obvious on your breath with their sickly, sweet odour that has a distinct metallic smell.


Many people who do not smoke would probably be able to distinguish a smoker by breath resembling the smell of an ashtray. Stopping smoking can also stop this kind of bad breath and also reduce the risk of gum disease – which also causes bad breath.

Food and drink

Realise that if a food or drink item has a stench going into your mouth, the after-effects coming out will probably have a stench as well! Garlic, onions, spices, coffee and alcoholic drinks are particularly bad culprits. Bad breath from these foods and drink is normally only a temporary problem and can be averted by simply avoiding these things.


Certain types of medicines are known to cause bad breath and if this is indeed the case, you can speak to your GP about possible alternatives if the problem proves troublesome. Medicines associated with bad breath include: some chemotherapy drugs, some nitrates used in the treatment of angina, phenothiazines (tranquilisers), dimethyl sulfoxide and disulfiram.


The body’s sympathetic nervous system begins during times of stress enabling a rapid response for ‘fight or flight’ situations, but this results in a decrease in the production of saliva. This happens as saliva is only required for the breakdown of food, and not in a crisis moment. However, this results in the mouth becoming much drier. A dry mouth usually means bad breath!

Morning bad breath

Bad breath after a night’s sleep is a common occurrence as the mouth dries up and stagnates during the night. This type of bad breath normally subsides after beginning to eat breakfast and the flow of saliva increases.

Treating bad breath

Bad breath treatment will usually depend on the cause of it. As we have stressed already, stopping smoking, avoiding certain food and drink, eating enough carbohydrates, having good oral hygiene, as well as using CB12 mouthwash (as seen on television) and fresh breath sprays such as Gold Spot, are just some of the things you can do to try and alleviate bead breath.

Also, attend regular dental check-ups as dentists can ensure any plaque is removed from your teeth – especially in areas difficult to get to. They can also spot any early signs of gum disease and advise appropriate treatment as early as possible.

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